Billionaire Alwaleed Sells Stake in Publisher at 91% Premium

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Saudi Arabian billionaire Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal’s Kingdom Holding Co. agreed to sell its almost 30 percent stake in Saudi Research and Marketing Group at nearly double the market value.

The buyer will purchase 23.92 million shares, or 29.9 percent of Saudi Research, at 35 riyals per share in a private transaction, Kingdom Holding said in a statement to the Saudi stock exchange on Sunday. Shares of the publishing group were trading at 18.35 riyals last week before being halted. Saudi Research said a unit of National Commercial Bank, the country’s largest lender, is buying 55.2 percent of its shares, without giving further details.

Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal

Photographer: Matthew Lloyd/Bloomberg

Kingdom will receive about 837 million riyals ($223 million) for its stake and will use proceeds for “other corporate projects and investment opportunities," according to the statement. Kingdom and Alwaleed have built a combined stake in Twitter Inc. of more than 5 percent, the second-largest in the company, a disclosure showed last month.

The Saudi Research transaction will be recorded in Kingdom’s fourth-quarter results, according to the statement. The Riyadh-based group publishes newspapers including Arab News and London-based Al Sharq Al Awsat. 

Kingdom Holding sold most of its stake in News Corp. in February, cutting its ownership of Class B shares to 2 million from 13.2 million. The Saudi company’s Chief Financial Officer Mohammed Fahmy said earlier this year it was planning to sell shares in a “significant” number of assets.

NCB Capital Funds doesn’t intend to bid for the rest of Saudi Research’s shares, the publisher said, and has no plans to introduce “fundamental changes in the overall strategy” of the business.

Saudi Research shares will resume trading on Monday.